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Queen Mary 2 (QM2)

Itinerary

Located on the south coast of England, Southampton served as the historic ocean liner gateway for the British Empire and the intense North Atlantic passenger trade to the U.S. and Canada. Today it is the U.K.'s - and indeed Europe's -- leading cruise port.

Best known as the homeport of Cunard's Queen Mary 2, Southampton now hosts a wide variety of cruise ships in the booming European cruise market with the principal lines being Cunard, Fred. Olsen, Royal Caribbean, P&O Cruises and Saga Cruises.

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A city of endless possibilities, high energy and great diversity, New York has always been the benchmark for first-rate dining, unparalleled shopping and cultural activity. For visitors, it's an exciting city and, at times, is more than a little intimidating. New York natives always seem to be in a hurry, but with midtown traffic often at a complete standstill, it may be faster for them to walk across town than to take a bus. When you hear a foreign language, it could be international tourists -- flocking to the city in droves because of the weak dollar -- or it could be a New Yorker.

It's love at first sight when the Empire State Building comes into view, and the Statue of Liberty awes even the most blase tourist. Broadway shows will wow you; browsing Bloomingdale's will amaze you. It's always possible to stumble upon an unforgettable meal -- an oven-fresh slice of perfect pizza, Chinese food in Chinatown or a haute-cuisine dinner by candlelight. The views from the Staten Island Ferry are a knockout, and downtown nightlife will keep you busy in the city that never sleeps.

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Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.5
1,131 reviews
Why Choose Queen Mary 2 (QM2)?

Pro

Drastically improved buffet restaurant; only kennels at sea; excellent specialty dining

Con

Poor quality of food in the main dining room hasn't been addressed

Bottom Line

QM2 retains its unique sense of occasion, melding tradition with fresh touches

Queen Mary 2 (QM2) Overview

The prospect of traveling onboard Queen Mary 2, the world's only ocean liner, is thrilling -- now more than ever -- following the ship's £90-million transformation in 2016. QM2's refurbishment has been carried out with equal amounts of style and sensitivity. The ship now truly feels like a five-star hotel, without losing Cunard's maritime heritage.

The biggest change is in the Kings Court buffet, which is unrecognizable with a completely fresh design and the removal of two central elevators. We love the area's new look; the redesign has transformed the space from a chaotic feeding frenzy into a calm space for daily grazing. The space could still benefit from more tables -- we spotted some passengers taking their plates to Carinthia Lounge (the former Winter Garden) to find a seat during the day.

The Grand Lobby has also lost its two glass elevators and thanks to its new starburst carpet, the space feels like it has come to life and finally found its purpose. QM2's 15 new Single cabins -- a first for the line -- are impressive, too. Designed to offer solo travelers or those traveling with friends their own cabin space, we love this new addition to the ship. Although they're the smallest cabins onboard, the new singles feel spacious and light and, best of all, everything from furnishings to the bathroom fit out is all shiny and new.

With four elevators removed and 50 new cabins added, the ship could have become overcrowded around the other elevators, but this doesn't seem to be a problem. Our transatlantic crossing sailed at capacity, yet the ship felt as spacious as ever. Remarkably, in fact, some areas often seemed quiet. One evening in the brand-new Carinthia Lounge, for example, we were among only a handful of passengers in the room. A favorite area during the day, Carinthia Lounge felt lacking in character in the evenings, although the sophisticated tones and seating is a step up from the aged space it replaced.

Some things never change, though. There's still just the one daily captain's announcement at noon, which provides an update on the ship's progress. From the row of wooden sun loungers bearing the ship's royal motif on the Promenade Deck to the Art Deco-style Britannia Restaurant, QM2 does an exceptionally good job at allowing its passengers to feel that they've stepped back in time.

Commodore Club and Churchill's Cigar Lounge also remain unchanged -- aside from fresh carpets and upholstery -- and they've lost none of their charm. Our tip is to spend a few hours after dinner in Churchill's to indulge in conversation with some of the ship's many fascinating characters. If you'd rather avoid the smell of smoke, Commodore Club is equally as charismatic.

For a line that bills itself as a luxury product, the ship under delivered in some areas. Notably the (un)helpfulness of receptionist and boutique staff and the quality of food in the ship's main dining room, Britannia Restaurant, where the majority of passengers eat. One evening in the Britannia Restaurant we ordered the beetroot salad, which arrived with a few tiny cubes of beetroot hidden below a handful of mixed green leaves, while on another occasion a fillet of haddock arrived overcooked and dry.

The ship's "remastering" was an opportunity not just for improved functionality and aesthetics, but for Cunard to improve on these areas, too, and we feel they haven't been addressed. However, the ship really excels in its specialty dining, both at Kings Court Specialty A La Carte -- the ship's daily changing themed restaurant -- and its new addition, The Verandah.

Traveling on QM2 still feels like an extremely special experience and there's a feeling of quiet excitement onboard, as you step back in time to a golden age of travel. Dressing for dinner is taken seriously and passengers enjoy the romance of taking walks on the Promenade Deck, dancing in the Queens Room and experiencing the Planetarium. And the thrill of approaching New York (if you're on a westbound crossing), becomes palpable the nearer you get to the U.S.

Passengers looking to experience cruising at its most elegant and formal will love QM2, but if you're looking for a more modern variety of relaxed luxury -- a ship that provides top-notch service without fanfare -- QM2 is probably not for you.

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Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: January 2018
Assuming that we would receive a five star experience; we booked this crossing but in reality we have experienced better food and service at chain motels.The ship is beautiful but not entirely functional. Our room butlers were superb but ... Read More
Assuming that we would receive a five star experience; we booked this crossing but in reality we have experienced better food and service at chain motels.The ship is beautiful but not entirely functional. Our room butlers were superb but the rest of the staff is a horror. We lost water and heat several times during the crossing and in one case there was no heat for 15 hours. In trying to resolve the problem, it was discovered that the majority of staff has an attitude. I was put in my place by a telephone operator, told by another staff member that she had made a phone call so what else did I want. It is necessary to almost rant and rave to get problems resolved. This attitude permeates most of the staff.......spa, pursers, library, concierge. The food was ok. There was a strong start but quality declined as we got into the trip. Our servers were excellent and competent but that cannot compensate for mediocre offerings. The ship is massive and it took 7 minutes for me to walk to the library from my suite. It had to be a chore for some people forward to reach the Grill's Restaurants during the heavy weather. The Queen's Grill is long and narrow and the tables are set too close to each other, fortunately we had great neighbors or it would have been horrible. It sits on deck seven where other passengers walking by can literally stop and stare at you eating or evaluate your menu choices.It is a moderately attractive room. The brilliantly remastered Kings Court Restaurant resembles the Clara Barton rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike and after one meal there; the food is certainly better on the Turnpike. The food looks and tastes like my high school cafeteria lunches. Entertainment is standard ship board fare although several of the lectures were excellent especially the multi part talk on airline safety. You should get the message, by this point that Cunard, and the QM2 do not deliver on the promises in their advertising and they are selling a mediocre product.. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
How to explain the appeal of the North Atlantic in December - enormous skies, a vast gray ocean (sometimes roiling, occasionally serene), short days and cozy evenings, and the time-suspending experience of not seeing land for a week. This ... Read More
How to explain the appeal of the North Atlantic in December - enormous skies, a vast gray ocean (sometimes roiling, occasionally serene), short days and cozy evenings, and the time-suspending experience of not seeing land for a week. This was our second time on a mid-December crossing and likely not our last. First the good: The ship looks beautiful since the remastering last year. New furniture, carpets, and color schemes are lovely and very well done. The new Carinthia lounge is attractive at all times of day, and old favorites like the Commodore Club still please. We enjoyed some absolutely stellar lectures (ha, an accidental pun - one of the speakers was an astronomer); and heard several concerts from a wonderful classical pianist. Overall it was the best enrichment/entertainment selection we've had to date on any ship. One major quibble. We were in Queen's Grill thanks to favorable mid-winter rates, and although the stateroom was fabulous and the restaurant was very beautiful, we felt let down by the quality of the QQ restaurant food. The menu choices were limited and heavily skewed towards beef. The beef itself looked pretty but was strangely lacking in juices. The same potato dish (a sort of gratinee) was served at nearly every meal, and steamed cauliflower and broccoli appeared too often. One day we asked for spinach at dinner, and it was quite delicious, so the kitchen was capable of more. The best dish I had was a fish curry at lunch. The overall impression was that Cunard emphasized status foods (beef tenderloin, lobster, etc) that would satisfy people's concept of elegant dining, but didn't care enough about the actual preparation to please the palate, too. A couple of meals in the King's Court were frankly mediocre. One other minor quibble - we went to the Carinthia lounge one evening to sample the sherries there. The room was a mess - uncleared tables, bits of trash on the floor, and no sign of a waiter. We were there around 6 pm so maybe we arrived during a shift change or something. But we didn't bother to go again. The condition of that room was a glaring exception to the otherwise immaculate state of the rest of the ship. Others have noted the increased cost of bar drinks. We thought the wine lists and bar menus were fine and offered plenty of good choices, but the prices were indeed on the high side. We happened to be in the Golden Lion at trivia time one day and had a good time playing along. We didn't sample any of the shows. We love Cunard and will undoubtedly sail with them again. (Seriously, where else can we wear our formal clothes?) But are hoping to see that the quality of the food improves in the meantime. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
I decided to try QM2 again after sailing on a transatlantic in 2012. I had heard about the fabulous re-mastering and wanted to see if the ship had been changed. I'm afraid that I was not impressed. Obviously the accountants had the whip ... Read More
I decided to try QM2 again after sailing on a transatlantic in 2012. I had heard about the fabulous re-mastering and wanted to see if the ship had been changed. I'm afraid that I was not impressed. Obviously the accountants had the whip hand in deciding what to do with the ship. QM2 always had an ergonomic problem. It is the worst vessel at sea to get around; so many blind alleys, blocked off areas, exclusion zones and without doubt the worst use of space ever. What they have done is increased the spaces available to make money, though curiously they have turned a wonderful casino into little more than a slot parlour. I was amazed to see that Queens grill and Princess grill dining rooms are located n a non-descript part of the ship with wonderful views of the super-structure, providing they don't mind being stared at by lesser mortals promenading outside their dining room windows. A poor substitute for QV and QE where premium guests have the views of Olympian gods from their dining room, unobserved by lesser mortals. I was most unimpressed by the huge waste of space in and around the Queens Room and other areas of the ship. so much more could be done in these spaces with very little effort. As for the Kings Court, OMG it is like dining in a tunnel on the London Underground. It was cold outside so everyone uses it as a thoroughfare from one end of the ship to the other, a nightmare at busy times negotiating your way to a table through the throng. The service, rooms, food, entertainment were all wonderful as you would expect. I will avoids this ship like the plague, I hate the general layout and find it to be the biggest waste of space on the high seas. One last thing, don't book a cruise on this ship id you are a smoker. Cunard considers smokers as lesser mortals who must be punished for their nasty habit and will confine them to the most uncomfortable out of the way parts of the ship with plenty of wind and rain to cleanse them of their filthy habit. If you smoke you may want to find a another cruise line because the only thing Cunard will help you with is purchasing smokes, god forbid you want to light up. Maybe during the next re-fit they will find a corner of the bilge tanks for the smokers to use. Read Less